What *Not* To Say To People Who Are Suffering

Over the years, I’ve heard people—often well-meaning—say things to people in suffering that is at worst brutality and at best insensitive.

When you experience people that are suffering, here are fifteen things you shouldn’t do:

  1. Don’t say, “This must be happening to you because you sinned.”
  2. Don’t focus on things instead of people.
  3. Don’t insensitively speculate about what problems this suffering may be sparing them (e.g. “Your house might have burnt down, but at least you still have your car!”)
  4. If they have a fatal disease, don’t say, “Well, everybody must die from something. You have the advantage of knowing in advance what it is.”
  5. Don’t say, “I know how you feel.”
  6. Don’t rebuke them for what you perceive is their faulty view of God.
  7. Don’t say, “Isn’t it great to know that God is ultimately in control of all of it?”
  8. Don’t say, “You aren’t spiritually mature until you’re happy about this.”
  9. Don’t glibly quote Romans 8:28.
  10. Don’t assume that they are seeking an answer to the question, “Why?”
  11. When people ask, “Why?”, don’t assume that they are looking for a long, sophisticated answer.
  12. Don’t say, “You are continuing to suffer because you lack faith in God.”
  13. Don’t immediately try to solve their problem.
  14. Don’t pretend to know why God has ordained their suffering.
  15. Don’t ask, “How do you feel?”

This list is adapted from an article written by Dr. Andy Naselli here.

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